Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Don't Buy that European Windstorm Catastrophe Bond

In Europe windstorms account for some 80% of catastrophic claims and worldwide are second only to U.S. hurricanes for hits to insurers balance sheets. As an example January's relatively minor Windstorm Andrea is estimated to have caused €309m in insured losses.
A big one, on the order of 2010's Windstorm Xynthia or 2009's Windstorm Klaus can kill dozens to hundreds of people and cause $3 Billion in damage, 2/3rds of which are usually insured losses.

Swiss Re just brought to market the second largest Cat Bond that I'm familiar with, the $400 million Mythen Ltd. behemoth that in the words of the Swiss Re marketeers is a
“flexible program that allows Swiss Re to cede wind risks in both the United States and Europe to the capital markets."
This longish intro is necessary because we are probably going to enter a solar minimum after the current sunspot cycle peaks next year.

A couple days ago Nature Geoscience posted this paper:

Regional atmospheric circulation shifts induced by a grand solar minimum
Large changes in solar ultraviolet radiation can indirectly affect climate1 by inducing atmospheric changes. Specifically, it has been suggested that centennial-scale climate variability during the Holocene epoch was controlled by the Sun2, 3. However, the amplitude of solar forcing is small when compared with the climatic effects and, without reliable data sets, it is unclear which feedback mechanisms could have amplified the forcing. Here we analyse annually laminated sediments of Lake Meerfelder Maar, Germany, to derive variations in wind strength and the rate of 10Be accumulation, a proxy for solar activity, from 3,300 to 2,000 years before present. We find a sharp increase in windiness and cosmogenic 10Be deposition 2,759 ± 39 varve years before present and a reduction in both entities 199 ± 9 annual layers later....MORE 
Windy and colder.
Hence our October 2011 post:

"Climate Change Caused Angry Runts"
It's been a while since we had a solar minimum.*
Hostile short people with nuclear weapons, this could get interesting. 
From DiscoveryNews:
Climate changes resulted in war and famine in preindustrial Europe. A century-long drop in temperature even led to shorter people in the 16th century.

Chinese researchers recently looked at every known major conflict and crisis in Europe and correlated them to 14 economic, social, agricultural, ecological and demographic variables.

“Our findings indicate that climate change was the ultimate cause, and climate-driven economic downturn was the direct cause, of large-scale human crises in preindustrial Europe and the Northern Hemisphere,” wrote the researchers, led by David Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Between 1500 and 1800, every change in average temperatures correlated to a change in agricultural output and food supply. The climate changes did not result in immediate changes in population growth, so even in a cold year with poor harvests, the population kept going up. More mouths to feed with less grain meant a rise in food prices and starvation.

Hungry people then either revolted, migrated or starved. On a larger scale this meant war, plague or malnutrition. But the disastrous effects of climate changes weren't instantaneous.

“Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, and political reforms followed every decline of temperature, with a 1- to 15-year time lag,” reported the researchers.

For example, cold temperatures between 1264 and 1359 led to the Great Famine of the late Middle Ages.

During the long cold spell between 1559 and 1652, average heights in Europe declined by 0.8 inches....MORE
Solar Cycle 24 Sunspot Prediction

*****Alert***** "What's down with the Sun? Major drop in solar activity predicted" *****Alert*****
Ice Age, Not: "A Solar Scientist Rebuts a Cool Sunspot Prediction"
 A few of our posts have touched on the subject:

Wheat Market Gone Wild and "Do We All Die in 2027?"
Herschel and Me (Sunspots and Wheat)

"The 2012 sunspot sell-off"

We'll be back with more, in the meantime here's Bob Seger: